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Winston Salem SEO : How to Select Keywords – an In-Depth Guide

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By Triad SEO in : Search Engine Optimization, Winston Salem SEO // Aug 25 2010

When beginning a Search Engine Optimization plan, there are several basic steps that every Search Engine Optimization knows to take before they start.

The 1st is always to build a keyword list of which there are varying methods of doing so. The right methods will aid you in developing and supporting a site-wide SEO strategy. The wrong methods will run you in circles, wondering what went wrong.

It is the intent of this article to teach an effective method of keyword selection that will enable you to land more keywords and phrases on the first page with less work.

Getting Started –  Know the Site

To develop a excellent keyword list, you will need to know your site backwards and forwards. You ought to know what the site features, and just as importantly, you ought to know what it does not feature.

The 1st step is to brainstorm a list of somewhat generic keywords. For  instance, if you’re a shoe store in Winston Salem, the temptation will arise to try and rank number 1 for the term “shoes.”

Well, that is a start, but ranking for the word “shoes” is probably aiming a little too high for a mom and pop shop in NC, which is why it is very important that you know the site well enough to come up with a good list of pseudo-generic “modifiers” for the keyword –

• Location (Winston Salem shoes, shoes NC)

• Price (cheap shoes, inexpensive shoes, quality shoes, comfortable shoes etc)

• Types (running shoes, walking shoes, jogging shoes etc)

• Industry specific (anti-pronation shoes)

Lengthening the List

At this point you should have a good list of pseudo-generic keywords. The next step is lengthening that list using your favorite Keyword tool (I will be using Overture in this example).

Each time you plug a keyword into your tool of choice, it will return the number of searches conducted for that term over a given period of time. It’ll also suggest keywords and phrases from the tool’s database that are similar to the one you entered.

The basic idea now is to go through the list returned by the keyword tool and copy any and all similar terms as well as their corresponding search values, which relate directly to the site you’re optimizing. Then, paste them to a spreadsheet program so that they can be further edited later.

Once you have copied and pasted, just go through the list row by row. Delete keyword phrases that don’t have to do with the web site you’re optimizing (which is why it is important to know what the web site does not feature) and repeat with the next pseudo-generic keyword on your list. The idea is to identify as many keyword phrases as possible.

Narrowing the List

So you’ve a long keyword list; it’s time to narrow it down. I narrow my lists by determining when the potential gain for a keyword is relative to the competition. In order to make that decision, I need know three variables –

1. The number of searches on a particular keyword (already got those from Overture)

2. The Amount of Competition (I’ll show you how to find your competition in this section.)

3. Will the keyword lead to conversions (this is up to you)

Below is a method for thoroughly determining competition for various keywords and phrases –

1. Do a search for one of your keywords and phrases

2. On the 1st SERP find the last listing with the keyword in the title tag that is either a homepage of any kind or is a sub-page which isn’t associated with a domain whose Pagerank is greater than 6. (This is the page you will need to beat, if one doesn’t exist, ranking will typically be easier)

3. Find out how many unique links with the keyword in the anchor text whose linking page has a Pagerank of 1 or higher for the competitor (This is how many quality backlinks you will need to acquire)

The aforementioned is a meticulous method for deciding the competition for all your keywords, and unless you are planning on building a tool that’ll automate this process, I would suggest taking a more general approach by using advanced search strings in the search engine of your choice.

The technique that I am about to demonstrate uses the following string –  intitle – “Keyword Phrase” inanchor – “Keyword Phrase”. This string will return the total number of pages with, largely, the two greatest factors contributing to ranking for a keyword –

• Having the keyword in the page title

• Having the keyword in anchor text pointing to the page

It’s a down and dirty method for reviewing  competition. This is how it’s done –

1. Go to http – //www.startlaunch.com/research/

2. Copy your list of keywords into the box, click “submit”

3. Click on each link

4. Find and copy the number of pages that the search engine returns for this query from the top right of the SERPs to a new column next to the corresponding keyword in your keyword list spreadsheet (this is your competition).

5. In another new column, divide the number of competitors by the number of monthly searches for each keyword.

6. Sort the table from low to high (ascending) using that column.

What you’ve done is developed a ratio of competitors to searches. When determining competition, you generally want the keyword to be searched on more times than there are competitors for that word. So the closer the ratio is to 0, the better the keyword.

These techniques will point out which terms have the most competition, but competition alone should not dictate which words make the final list.

Keyword Layout

Remember when picking keywords –  words on a higher competitive level ought to be placed on pages that’ll receive deep links in groups of 2 or 3 where all of the keywords are very similar like –

• Running shoes, Shoes for running and purchase running shoes online

• Website design in Winston Salem, Winston Salem Georgia web design, Winston Salem site design

This way, you won’t have to remove highly competitive, but potentially lucrative terms from your list, if you make a concerted effort to perform link-building for the pages on which those terms reside.

For smaller terms, in my opinion, the more the merrier. They may be given their own pages or be mentioned on other highly trusted pages of your website.

That’s it. You should have all the information you need to select a strategically viable keyword list. Do not forget, keyword research is the cornerstone of a successful SEO plan.

Knowing the competition for the keywords and phrases will aid you in site layout, in addition to focusing effort on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) only where it’s necessary.

Ultimately, it’ll make your optimization process more efficient, permitting your sites to rank for more keywords with less work, which is a goal that all SEOs strive to attain.

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